By: Lisa Varga
If you’re a tea lover like me, then you’re going to be amazed at this article. It’s quite lengthy, but it’s packed with information that I think you will want to know. I couldn’t believe some of the facts I discovered through my research and the knowledge of a London tea expert.
My friend who works at a coffee house, and we were discussing drinking tea. I mentioned to him that I had a health and wellness site, and was excited to get his expert advice on tea so I could write a blog article about it for my readers. What we both discovered through our tea enlightenment experience was eye-opening, and a bit shocking. Are you ready? Here we go…
One of my personal favorite teas has always been green tea. It’s supposed to have many great health benefits, so I drink it all the time, however I don’t like caffeine. My body doesn’t react well to caffeine. It makes me jittery and I can’t sleep at night if I drink too much. So I just assumed drinking decaffeinated green tea was the best solution. I found out I was very wrong.
I also found out that here in the United States, we generally have no idea what good-quality tea is or how to brew it properly. So my friend Seth, who works at the coffee house, reached out to a tea expert in London, and came back with some very surprising answers for me. I have some good news and some not so good news. Keep reading…
This is what the tea expert said… “The decaf process is pretty industrial, using solvents to draw out the caffeine. Some of these solvents are dangerous to consume and it is impossible to remove trace amounts. If the decaf process is using CO2 as the solvent, then this retains the best flavor. According to studies, the decaffeination process removes between 50-90% of the antioxidant levels so the short answer is ‘NO’, decaf tea does not have the same level of health properties as non-decaf. It be would advisable to drink tisanes (herbal tea/rooibos) or low caffeine tea, such as white and oolong tea (especially roasted oolong) if you want to avoid caffeine.”
Here’s the good news though, all the varieties of teas have the same benefits. Once the leaves have been picked from the Camellia Sinensis (tea) plant, the amount of oxidation the tea leaves are exposed to during processing affects how the body processes the antioxidants. I started looking into the specifications of that, but with over 3000 different varietals, I thought it might be a little too much for us all to absorb the first time around.
Tea is generally a low caffeine drink. Here is a break down I found on http://chinalifeweb.com using a comparison for a 250ml cup:
- Coffee – 80mg caffeine
- Green Tea – 40mg caffeine
- Red Tea – 30mg caffeine
- White Tea – 30mg caffeine
- Oolong Tea – 20mg caffeine
- Herbal Tea – No caffeine
Even decaffeinated tea contains a trace (between 5 and 10 milligrams) of caffeine. For a caffeine free experience, you should drink herbal tea.
I found all of this to be very fascinating, but it gets even better… We talked to a tea expert in London that Seth called, his name is Don Mei. We got some great insight and videos that helped me answer all of my tea questions and more. I thought I knew a lot about tea until I collaborated with Seth and Don. I am excited to share what I found out, and I think you will be amazed. Keep reading if you want to learn more.
I wanted to confirm again why decaffeinated green tea, or any decaf beverage for that matter (including coffee) is not a good thing. Here was the answer Seth gave me after his chat with Don Mei:
– The process of decaffeination is mostly very industrialized. Chemicals, obviously, are not the best thing to consume. But even when it’s done the ‘natural’ way (C02) you loose antioxidant levels and much of the taste.
I asked Don to recommend the top three green teas (even if they had caffeine) because I wanted to share with everyone what a high-quality green tea consists of. And also where we could buy them. So Seth asked Don about quality tea in the states. He said he doesn’t know of many but he would give me a couple companies to check out. However, it seems they are either really expensive or just not a large company, so not a huge selection.
I still have to get those names for you. I’ll be looking into them soon. But in general, his experience has been that the tea companies in the US are more concerned with profit/quantity over quality, which for me is very disappointing. This movement towards really good quality tea in the US is actually quite new so it’s an uphill battle. I guess in some ways this is the beginning of the third wave of tea.
My next question to Seth and Don was that I know green tea has some incredible health benefits, but is there a tea out there that I am not aware of that has even more benefits than green tea? Here was the answer:
– The science is actually very inconsistent on tea. To sum up the conversation of the health benefits, all good-quality tea is good for you equally. Why it’s good for you is (despite what you read on the internet) quite complicated and inconclusive. But there is definite physical evidence that it is good for you. It’s been shown that drinking 2 cups a day can actually reduce your chance of a stroke in your lifetime by roughly 25%. Tea culture is actually very non black and white. Americans hate this, but tea culture has only recently started to move from doing x, y, and z just because that’s how it’s always been done, to people stopping and asking, “why?” and trying to sift through the beautiful folk lore of tea and the hard scientific facts.
So my big question was of course, what is the best solution for someone like myself who does not like caffeine, but wants the benefits of drinking green tea for the antioxidants and overall health benefits? Here was Don’s answer:
– Don said he doesn’t really deal in decaffeinated tea because of what the process takes out of the tea in both health and taste. Also, just something to think about, the caffeine in tea absorbs differently. The body absorbs tea caffeine slower over a longer period of time so you don’t get nearly as much of a buzz. Plus, the theanines in tea counteract the caffeine by psychoactively calming you. So the caffeine is helping you focus and be super alert and the theanines are calming you and giving you a sense of well being.
The suggestion for me was to just experiment with higher quality teas and see how much I can drink before it starts to affect my sleeping patterns. Also, some studies are showing that all tea has the same benefits eventually. So alternatively I’m going to try oolong tea, black tea, and white tea. Don’s final advice was, “At the end of the day, just drink what tastes good to you and what feels right to you, we know it’s good for you, that’s great, but tea is more about the taste.”
My tea drinking experience will have to go to the next level now. Who knew there was so much to learn about tea. And it looks like I better start getting use to caffeine.
I had just a few more questions. (We’re will be done soon guys, thanks for hanging in there). We all know about “super foods”, and we all know that they are important for health and wellness, so I asked if there was such a thing as a “super tea”? Here’s the answer:
– Matcha is more in that direction. Mainly just because we are consuming the whole leaf. We lose 35-40% of the health benefits with steeping tea in water. When drinking Matcha, you get the full benefits but nearly the equivalent amount of caffeine that coffee has. However, remember your body absorbs it differently so you still won’t have a massive crash. Here’s a great video to watch as Don explains everything you need to know about Matcha:
My last and final question was this…Is it better to drink loose tea, or tea in a tea bag? Does it matter? What are the pros and cons to each? Don’s answers were so alarming to me. There is also a video link below that I highly recommend you watch. It blew my mind and educated me above and beyond about tea and the proper way to drink it, and the different qualities of tea. I will never order or drink tea the same way again. Here is what I learned…
Tea bags are a definite NO in the quality tea world for a couple of reasons:
– Most of the time what’s in your traditional tea bag is literally the tea dust they sweep off the floor! I imagine they clean it, but still obviously not the real deal. The health benefits, I imagine, are also lower and counteracted with chemicals.
– When it’s tea dust, it will extract extremely fast so you get that disgusting dryness in your mouth. Those are called tannins.
– Even if it’s high-quality, loose leaf tea, the tea bags often restrict the leaf and you experience a very uneven extraction which will effect the taste. Not to mention, most tea bags are bleached or made from toxic material. Check out this video from Don and it will truly explain everything you need to know regarding tea and how to prepare it.
I hope this article was helpful. I love researching new and interesting topics to write about. It’s a pleasure to give all of my readers the best facts and insight on some of the most important health and wellness questions we have. I enjoy writing blogs very much, but when I don’t know all the answers, I reach out to my experts. I would like to thank Seth Creekmore and Don Mei for their input and expert advice on this article. Seth works at a coffee house called Embassy coffee, owned by Chris May, in Goshen, Indiana. They will open this August. You can also contact Seth through social media FB: Seth Creekmore Music IG: @sethcreekmo TW: @sethcreekmo
And a very special thanks to my tea expert in London, Don Mei. Right now, Don’s store is called Chinalife, but they are rebranding to Mei Leaf in September 2016. Here’s the website: http://chinalifeweb.com
Thank you so much to all of my readers who visit my site every day. I appreciate you taking the time to read my articles, and for checking out what’s new on my site. Feel free to share this article with all of your tea loving friends.
And to all of my tea lovers out there, we can still enjoy our tea, we just need to know how to do it properly. Feel free to share your tea stories with me or share information on your own tea experience. Just go to my contact page on this site and send me a message. I am still looking for some great teas here in the US. Let me know if you find any.
Be well, and blessings to all.